Peter Coyote on Robin Williams, Roger Williams on Rick Scott … by gimleteye
Peter CoyoteRobin William’s Last Gift Robin and I were friends. Not intimate, because he was very shy when he was not performing. Still, I spent many birthdays and holidays at his home with Marsha and the children, and he showed up at my 70th birthday to say “Hello” and wound up mesmerizing my relatives with a fifteen minute set that pulverized the audience. When I heard that he had died, I put my own sorrow aside for a later time. I’m a Zen Buddhist priest and my vows instruct me to try to help others. So this little letter is meant in that spirit. Normally when you are gifted with a huge talent of some kind, it’s like having a magnificent bicep. People will say, “Wow, that’s fantastic” and they tell you, truthfully, that it can change your life, take you to unimaginable realms. It can and often does. The Zen perspective is a little different. We might say, “Well, that’s a great bicep, you don’t have to do anything to it. Let’s work at bringing the rest of your body up to that level.” Robin’s gift could be likened to fastest thoroughbred race-horse on earth. It had unbeatable endurance, nimbleness, and a huge heart. However, it had never been fully trained. Sometimes Robin would ride it like a kayaker tearing down white-water, skimming on the edge of control. We would marvel at his courage, his daring, and his brilliance. But at other times, the horse went where he wanted, and Robin could only hang on for dear life. In the final analysis, what failed Robin was his greatest gift---his imagination. Clutching the horse he could no longer think of a single thing to do to change his life or make himself feel better, and he stepped off the edge of the saddle. Had the horse been trained, it might have reminded him that there is always something we can do. We can take a walk until the feeling passes. We can find someone else suffering and help them, taking the attention off our own. Or, finally, we can learn to muster our courage and simply sit still with what we are thinking are insoluble problems, becoming as intimate with them as we can, facing them until we get over our fear. They may even be insoluble, but that does not mean that there is nothing we can do. Our great-hearted friend will be back as the rain, as the cry of a Raven as the wind. He, you and I have never for one moment not been a part of all it. But we would be doing his life and memory a dis-service if we did not extract some wisdom from his choice, which, if we ponder deeply enough, will turn out to be his last gift. He would beg us to pay attention if he could.
I like Rick Scott. I talked to the governor once on the phone and later watched him hand out medals to veterans. He’s a really nice guy.
I’m a nice guy, too.
He wears handmade cowboy boots from the same cobbler who fashions them for Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Texas governor and President George W. Bush. He shakes a lot of hands in those boots.
I used to wear cowboy boots, too, made by Red Wing. I never did much handshaking, but I rode horseback across part of Kansas once and I worked a job on a section crew for the Union Pacific Railroad out of Bonner Springs, in those boots.
That was while Rick Scott was going to law school, which I thought about doing. Briefly.
Rick Scott is bald and 60-something. So am I. Rick Scott was raised in Kansas City. I’ve lived inKansas City. And Rick Scott goes on hunting trips.
So do I.
I just came back from one last week, in fact — up there in the Rocky Mountains only 800 miles north of the King Ranch in Texas. That’s where Rick Scott and some other Republican leaders from Florida(both the outgoing and the incoming House speakers, the agricultural commissioner and so on) traveled last year to hunt hogs and deer caa courtesy of U.S. Sugar, which holds a 30,000- acre hunting lease on the King Ranch, itself an 825,000-acre operation.
After s they broke this story, some danged snoops from the Tampa Bay Times and Miami M Herald learned Scott a that Rick shot a buck.
I’ve shot deer, too, although on my last trip I only plugged a few cans on the old Nash Ranch in Colorado, while camping out with my son.
Sounds fun, doesn’t it? And it is. It’s fun to be free, like Rick Scott and me.
Rick Scott served his country as a young man in uniform (Navy). So did I (USMC). Rick Scott works hard. So do I. And Rick Scott has a wife and children who appear to love him. So do I, fortunately.
Long and short, Rick Scott is just like Roger Williams-plus-$100-million.
Of course, some minor differences exist between us, as well.
A month after he came back from the Big Shoot with Big Sugar on the Big Ranch, Rick Scott appointed Mitch Hutchcraft to the board of the South Florida Water Management District. A day after I came back from Colorado, I appointed my son to manage the water flowing to the horse trough in our pasture.
I’ve met Mitch Hutchcraft, and he’s another really nice guy. Since 2007, he’s been the vice president in charge of Florida farmlands owned by King Ranch — reported by those Times/ Herald snoops as 60,000 acres in southern Florida alone (40,000 in citrus, 12,000 in sugar and 8,000 in other crops).
King Ranch is now king of the citrus growers in the Sunshine State. The corporation also farms as much as 20,000 acres in the Everglades Agricultural Area, a 700,000- acre scrape that lies mostly south of Lake O.
Like a 20-mile-thick dam, the EAA cuts off the traditional southward flow of water from the lake into the southern Everglades and Florida Bay. It consists of an unnatural topographic tapestry of agricultural fields lying below sea level, canals, and massive pump systems designed for irrigation and water control.
It was originally financed — and it is still maintained — by American and state taxpayers. We also enrich the owners of its sugar harvest with artificial price supports: the Fanjul brothers, U.S. Sugar, and the King Ranch.
All of which means that land owners who “farm” sugar in the Everglades Agricultural Area and elsewhere are merely fat-cat welfare recipients who like to take Republican politicians hunting in Texas — unless they’re women, apparently.
As it turns out, Mitch Hutchcraft used to be one of the top executives of Bonita Bay Properties, a major developer in Lee County, where King Ranch owns significant land on the still-agricultural barrier called Pine Island.
So he shouldn’t have a problem helping to manage the SFWMD just like a moneymaking business — his business. I’m talking about the largest water district in the state, the 16-county public bureaucracy that is now point-man in the Everglades cleanup effort.
Those are the facts. This is also true: Big Sugar executives have spent money in recent years trying to reduce the crap that they pour into our water systems. Their companies also provide jobs, which their mouthpieces are fond of pointing out. And I applaud them for both.
But with Rick Scott’s help they’ve avoided having to clean up the massive damage they’ve already inflicted. That damage now threatens the life of Florida Bay to the south, Charlotte Harbor to the west, and the Indian River Lagoon to the east, where King Ranch is said to be the largest private landowner in Martin County.
Which means that taxpayers have to fix the problem. That’s Rick Scott’s solution. The governor is now suddenly proposing that we spend a billion dollars in the next decade to help solve our water problems.
Curiously, his plan comes a mere three years after he killed hundreds of key regulatory, enforcement and data-gathering positions at water management districts statewide — especially the SFWMD — nearly cutting their budgets in half along with their effectiveness in preventing problems in the first place.
But it’s all good. Not for us, of course, but for U.S. Sugar and the King Ranch. Perhaps that’s why they sponsor hunting trips to the Lone Star State for Republican male politicians from the Sunshine State.
And it may be why Big Sugar has given some $2.2 million to Florida’s Republican party, more than $500,000 of which has gone to the Rick Scott re-election campaign, so far.
It would be worse if these weren’t all such nice guys. Just like me, and probably like you (sorry, ladies). Maybe one day they’ll take us hunting in Texas, too.